SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket may return to flight in early January

Elon Musk has lost a launch order from Britain's biggest satellite company after a rocket built by SpaceX, his space exploration company, exploded on the launchpad.

The launch delay caused by the grounding of the Falcon 9 rocket will mean the Iridium Next constellation will not be fully deployed until at least early 2018, a few months later than Iridium's long-standing goal of having the satellites all in orbit by the end of 2017.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has been forced to delay the return of its rockets to flight until January as an investigation continues into a launch pad explosion earlier this year, the tech billionaire' s company said on Wednesday. "This allows for additional time to close out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing". (SpaceX postponed all forthcoming flights until further notice shortly after the explosion) The company has also confirmed that the next Falcon 9 rocket will have 10 of its satellites onboard.

The September 2015 accident occur while the rocket was being fuelled at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Bank of Canada signals divergence with US Federal Reserve
The Bank of Canada has made a decision to keep its benchmark interest rate where it is, citing a possible slowdown of the economy. Total CPI inflation has picked up in recent months, but is slightly below expectations largely because of food prices.

Officials did not release a new planned launch date on Wednesday.

SpaceX's return-to-flight mission will also resume the launch company's efforts to recover and refurbish Falcon 9 first stage boosters for reuse. These new satellites will replace the aging ones now in orbit. During the explosion, the Falcon 9 rocket contained the $200 million satellite of Space Communications Ltd. Dubbed the Iridium Next satellite fleet, they will provide a variety of customers - including military, oil and gas companies, and private citizens - access to global voice and data coverage.

SpaceX said in a statement Thursday that Inmarsat is a "long-time partner, and we wish them well with their upcoming mission". This would avoid any major hardware redesign, which would keep the Falcon grounded for many more months.

One factor in the delay is that the accident is now under investigation by a team from SpaceX, the US FAA, US Air Force, industry experts, and NASA.

  • Regina Walsh